We love being trendy, classy, up to date and occasionally bullying people over at Twitter. That’s who we are, that’s Kenyan. To feed our arguably lavish lifestyle, we need the latest smartphones, impressive laptops or perhaps access to a good cyber café with some fast internet connection. Getting these isn’t that hard. Finishing the loop by hooking up to the web is what becomes a bother to our enthusiastic embrace of the technology world.
If your landlord has not thrown in some Wi-Fi connection into the package as a show of good faith, you have to somehow foot the daily bill of buying internet bundles from your favourite broadband service provider. Here, your options boil down to Safaricom, Orange KE, Airtel KE, and perhaps Equitel (the new venture from Equity bank).
Safaricom is perhaps arguably the strongest network in Kenya. If you are interested in reliable connections, this would be the first place to stop by. However, the quality does come at a price – a dear one. The average cost per MB could be Ksh1 for the daily bundles or even more if you intent to purchase straight bundles rather than pick the measly daily bundles that wouldn’t load more than 10 HD pictures on Facebook before you get that depressing “Your Bundle balance is below 2.00MB” text.
Orange, on the other hand, seeks to get a share of the broadband thirsty by offering a couple of bundle purchase options and lucrative ‘Unlimited’ daily, weekly and monthly subscriptions. Its data services fall under a number of categories:
Internet Everywhere 3G+ (Orange)
Don’t let the name fool you. You won’t get the relatively acceptable up to 3.1 Mb/s speeds everywhere. Orange explicitly states that this connection will only work in areas with the EVDO network coverage. If you are lucky enough to be in one of these areas (You can use an eligibility map to identify the regions) you still will have to pay 3,999 for a 3G+ modem (something that makes it useless to on-the-move smartphone users) and some cash to pay for your bundles. This would range from Ksh1 per MB for low-end buyers and an impressive Ksh0.39 for those interested in 20GBs of data (stick to your lane here.)
An unlimited offer would get you unlimited data for a month or a week at 1,200/- and 5,990/- respectively.
Internet Everywhere 3G (Orange)
This can be accessed via a normal modem or a smartphone. For per bundle purchases, the rates won’t be any different from its 3G+ cousin only that you will pay less for the unlimited subscriptions. That would be Ksh990 for 7 days and Ksh2990 for a month. If you have a strong reception, you should not let the ‘unlimited’ fool you since Orange will clamp down on your speeds when you hit the fair use cealing.
You can also get a cheaper plan if you browse on your phone only. Unlimited monthly plan could be as low as Ksh 900 and Ksh50 for daily data, assuming all you have is your smartphone.
Airtel has some impressive Clubs that offer you minutes, bundles and texts. You could get 100Mbs and 20 texts for as low as 20 shillings in the club 20 promotion. A rather more impressive unlimited internet offer runs here though. You can get a daily unlimited offer at Ksh50, weekly for Ksh 1290 and monthly at Ksh3000.
I am yet to learn something about Equitel, I will touch on that once I do.
Safaricom is by far the most reliable ISP in Kenya. We all know that, and they perhaps do. The only problem is that they are expensive, perhaps unbearably expensive to some Kenyans. This could be the very making of the birth of bundle peddlers flocking social media sites with lucrative offers. Some claim to sell 500Mbs for as low as 200/-. For the record, that is less than half of what you would pay if you purchase at Safaricom. You can find these seller by a simple search on Twitter or Facebook. I have not tried them, you are on your own here.
Orange and Airtel have lucrative and more bearable offers but their bandwidth and general coverage. During peak usage hours, their networks almost crawl to a stop and recently, on my upcountry trip for the holidays, I couldn’t register a constant connection on both my Airtel and Orange simcards.
This leave us with very few options in the world of broadband. You either have to bear with Safaricom if you seek reliability, or pay less and keep waiting for the latest Selfies on Facebook to load, or for the Twitter time line to flow.
What carrier do you use? Your comment is welcome.